This is the first installment in an ongoing blog about our experiences, challenges, and successes as cattle ranchers, parents, and small business people. Please bear with us for this first article we are going to bring you up to speed with a little family history.
In order to orient you with our location if you look at a map and find the east border of California where the straight border angles of to the southeast, then draw a line straight south from there for about 300 miles the triangle that is made will approximately encompass Inyo and Mono counties. These two counties are where our operation is located. Inyo is the second largest county in California and its capitol is Independence, which is where Brenda and the girls and I live. My family first came to Independence in 1867 and we live not a mile from where my great grandfather (John W. Lacey) settled. John W. came out after the civil war primarily for the gold and silver mining boom. There was a great deal of mining activity in Inyo county, as a matter a fact the town of Keeler was the home of a very rich series of mines and was on the short list of towns to become the capitol of California. Needless to say my great grandfather prospected and raised cattle among other things and from one generation to the next we have been at it ever since.
Our operation as it exists today is quite a bit different than it was 143 years ago. First off, my great grandfather sold off his holdings about 1915 and divided the proceeds with his three children. My grandfather (Mark B. Lacey) reinvested his share into the beginnings of a ranch in Olancha just bit south of Independence. He assembled a combination of private and public land. The ranch ran from the winter range on the edge of Death Valley which is the lowest point in the continental U.S. (280 ft. below sea level) to the summer range in the Sierra Nevada mountains where the cattle grazed in the shadow of Mt. Whitney which is the highest point in the lower 48 states (14, 494 ft. above sea level). Eventually we stopped using the Death Valley area when my Father (John W. Lacey) took over the operation in the early 1960’s and he swapped it for grazing land near Independence. However, we did continue to take cattle into the Sierras until 1993.
When we stopped going into to high country we replaced it with private irrigated grazing land in Bridgeport, CA and Mammoth Lakes, CA. We move our cattle to these locations by truck. There are several reasons that we relocate our cattle to these summer pastures. For starters, Independence has about a 100-degree temperature differential from winter to summer. Alternatively, Bridgeport has a 120-degree differential plus snow, so we return to Independence for the winter. Second, our native grasses are ok for cattle to winter on by adding protein supplement but aren’t nutritious enough for maximum productivity. Finally, our cowherd is very high percentage Angus and the cows and calves are much more comfortable in the cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.
The previous is a pretty quick description of our family background and our cattle operation. It probably could have been even quicker by just stating that as we are going on the fifth generation we are still cattlemen to the core. Our family has a few interests outside of Lacey Livestock, but 99% of our business is tied to raising beef cattle. As you might imagine the majority of our activities revolve around livestock activities, whether it be meetings with livestock proponents, opponents, agencies, 4-H, or FFA we are completely dedicated to the raising of livestock or the protection of the culture and legacy of livestock producers.
In the next installment we will get a little more descriptive about where we are in our calendar of operations, and unique elements of our land resources. Until next time.
The Lacey Family